In today's On the News segment: House Republicans are blocking the Pentagon from taking any action on climate change; the beverage industry wants you to believe that you're better off drinking diet soda than drinking water; wind energy production reduce carbon emissions by almost 130 million tons; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of....science & green news.....
You need to know this. Republicans in the House of Representatives are not only denying climate science – they're actually blocking the Pentagon from taking any action on it. Recently, the House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which bars the Department of Defense from using any funds to implement or research plans to deal with climate change. Republican Congressman David McKinley, who introduced the legislation, said, "This amendment will prohibit the costs of the President's climate change policies being forced on the Department of Defense by the Obama Administration." However, this amendment blocks much more than the President's executive orders on climate change. The bill also bars the DOD from spending any money to implement changes suggested by the National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the United Nations. Republicans even made sure to block any action on one of the Right's favorite conspiracy theories – Agenda 21. This legislation forces Pentagon officials to stick their heads in the sand, and pretend that climate change is not a serious concern. House Democrats responded to the amendment in a letter to their colleagues, writing, "Science denial will not solve the [climate change] problem." Despite the fact that the Pentagon's own report warned that extreme weather and rising temperatures bring "conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence," - the DOD won't be able to do anything to address those threats. Once again, House Republicans have gone too far. Their latest political game may work out great for Big Oil, but it leaves the our nation – and our military – at risk for the real threats associated with climate change. We will need every part of our government to deal with the effects of global warming, and the Pentagon should be part of finding climate solutions.
The beverage industry wants you to believe that you're better off drinking diet soda than drinking water. Despite numerous studies that found diet drinks may actually increase a person's appetite, a recent industry-funded study says you'll lose more weight by drinking diet cola. The new study was funded by the American Beverage Association, and at least two of the authors received so-called "consulting fees" from Coca-Cola. The authors claim that participants who drank diet beverages lost 44 percent more weight than those who drank water, but the study failed to mention anything about the test subjects' diet or physical activity. Outside experts said that the research in the industry study left too many unanswered questions. Previous research has documented serious risks from consuming artificial sweeteners, and you'd be hard pressed to find health experts who agree with these new findings. This study is not clear science, it's corporate-funded propaganda aimed at getting you to buy another diet drink. Don't believe the beverage industry hype.
To many people, the terms "climate change" and "global warming" are synonymous, but it turns out that some people have different reactions to each phrase. While scientists often favor "climate change," a new report from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication says that "global warming" resonates with more members of the public. In fact, more people accept that "global warming" is a serious threat, and more were willing to demand action from Congress to protect our environment. This new report even states that more people accepted that "global warming" is real – including self-described Republicans and Independents. While the term "climate change" is a more accurate way to describe the weather weirding that results from rising global temperatures, it may not be the best phrase for getting people involved. If more people accept that "global warming" is a fact, let's go with that term to get them to support immediate action on protecting our planet. Who cares what we call it if we can get more people to agree that we must do something to prevent additional global warming.
It's easy to think that recreational drug and alcohol use is a modern phenomenon, but it is actually about as old as human civilization. A new study from a prehistory expert in Spain says that there is a ton of evidence that humans used mind altering substances as far back as 60,000 B.C. After sorting through artifacts, skeletal remains, and ancient art, the expert found numerous examples of ancient humans using cannabis, opium poppies, fermented fruit, and various other substances. While many archeologists dismissed the use of drugs and alcohol as ceremonial, this new research found substances were also used recreationally – however, they were mainly found among the remains of the elite. Thousands of years ago, our civilization accepted the recreational use of mind-altering substances... and it was until recent times that we decided people who used drugs should be locked up like criminals. Perhaps it's time to get back to our roots – like our really, really deep and ancient roots, and stop throwing people in jail for smoking a joint.
And finally... Last year, wind energy production reduced carbon emissions by almost 130 million tons. According to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association, that's the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off of our roads. And, the benefits of this form of clean energy don't stop there. Wind energy has also reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 350 million pounds and nitrous oxide emissions by more than 200 million pounds each year. At the same time, the cost of producing electricity with wind has dropped dramatically. Thanks to improvements in technology, the cost of wind energy has dropped 43 percent in the last four years alone. And – there are multiple wind energy projects in the works right now that will produce more electricity, further reduce carbon emissions, and continue to lower the cost of green energy. The science – and the math – is completely clear. We have the ability to make the switch to clean energy, and developing more wind and solar plants will put prices within reach of every American.
And that's the way it is for the week of June 2, 2014 - I'm Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.